He yawned and stretched in bed wondering what time it was. He’d probably be late for school but Nick hadn’t texted him yet so he was probably safe. He lay in bed for a few more minutes before he looked at his nightstand. It wasn’t there. He glanced at the other side and saw there was one but it was a dark mahogany and not the oak one he was used to.
He sat up looking around at bare blue walls, a dresser against the left side and a desk with a computer. The blanket he was under was new smelling as were the pillows. He got out of bed to feel a cold floor. He was wearing new boxers and had many small bruises and cuts.
“Where…?” Noah asked the dead air as he walked around the room. His panic surged and he suddenly felt like he couldn’t breathe.
“Nick!” he called hearing nothing and suddenly feeling panic well in his chest. He turned in a circle and saw there were no windows or doors. He turned again thinking he was wrong but there was nothing. He was trapped in a room with no doors or windows. Then he remembered. He and Layn had been caught and he had…he had shot someone. Nick would kill him. Elena would kill him.
The computer, he rushed to the laptop and opened it moving the touch screen and waiting impatiently. Finally the main screen came on and he went to click the internet icon but there was no icon. He looked at the sidebar to where the internet options should have been but when he clicked on it there was no signal. He swore loudly and looked around again feeling defeated until he caught sight of a camera in the corner. He swallowed, gave it the finger and went to sit on the bed again.
“Noah,” a voice boomed over a loud speaker he couldn’t see, “welcome home!” Chills sped up his spine. Where was Nick?
The first thing that hit him was heat and pain. The pain was not concentrated in any area of his body but all over his skin and inside his body. It felt like it he was laying on a bed of nails. It even hurt to open his eyes but when he sniffed he smelled familiar people and knew he must be safe.
It took a few moments of urging himself but he finally pried his eyes open and was instantly confused. Bright lights and bars greeted him. He made an uninterpretable noise and tried to sit up but he felt heavy like his body had turned to cement.
“Layn,” Elena said. Layn turned his head and looked at her with confusion and fear. “It’s ok, you’re with us,” she assured and Layn nodded not sure if this was a true fact. He sat up more and looked around. He was in a very small cell with cells surrounding his and a hallway outside. Across from his cell were more cells containing Morgan, Nick, Reese and Clay. Beside him was Elena and on the other side Antonio. Beyond her cell Karl was lying against the bars. All of them looked pissed and exhausted.
A few cells had small two by two windows that were barred as well, enough to see out but not be able to determine a location. They did a good job at filtering in cold winter air though. Layn was sure he had never been so cold before.
“Where are we?” Layn asked pain etched in his voice.
Layn swallowed. He laid his head back down on the floor too tired to concentrate and let the black fall back into him for a moment or much longer. When he was finally awake enough to care again he pulled himself up and leaned against the cold wall squinting out into the hallway but he couldn’t see anything beyond.
“Do you remember anything?” Elena asked her breath coming out in puffs. It was freezing in the small cells. Layn glanced across the hall. Morgan and Reese looked the most affected by the temperature. Reese hated the cold and Morgan had been recovering from an illness not long before hand.
“Maybe but not much, I know Noah was there and there were shots fired,” Layn explained looking up suddenly wide eyed, “Where’s Noah?” he asked looking around in case he had missed the other werewolf. He counted seven others including Morgan looking pale in the corner of his cage and Karl glaring into the hallway and pacing.
“With them or he got away,” Elena replied. Layn sighed and let his head drop back banging hard against the wall behind him. This was his fault. He was too impulsive. Noah’s father had probably already killed him.
“He wasn’t even supposed to be there. I knocked him out to keep him from following me but it must not have been hard enough,” Layn sighed and looked back at them. Elena and Nick were passing a look between one another that could only mean familiarity with the situation.
“Yeah, you need to smash them hard or they don’t stay under,” Nick said giving Elena a pointed look which she rolled her eyes at. That was definitely a story for another time. The joking demeanour was there for a second and then gone replaced by concern from both werewolves.
“Jeremy and the Council…,” Layn started to say but Elena put a finger to her lips and Layn changed course. “I wonder where they are, maybe in another country by now,” he said and Elena nodded and answered affirmatively. She kept eye contact with him and he found her wolf waiting for him. He silently told her that they were here and were working on a way to help them. Elena nodded to this and looked over at Clay to deliver the information. He looked relieved but like he wanted to smash through the bars and turn werewolf terminator and Layn could not blame him.
Layn watched as the information went around the tight space amazed at the pack’s ability to use their wolf nature in human form. He laid his head back against the bars again and listened to the world around them taking deep breaths. In Clay’s cell he spotted rain pouring from the sky outside warming the air and turning everything into an icy deathtrap. He closed his eyes to think until he heard the noise of a door creaking and something scrapping…footsteps. He opened his eyes wide and felt someone touch his hand. Looking over he saw Antonio had reached through his own bars and was giving him a reassuring look.
Joseph strode into view seconds later with Cain and some other goons. Layn grimaced not liking this one bit. Clay banged up against the bars and growled at them and Karl and Nick joined him but didn’t do anything as uncivilized as growling. They just glared with the full force of a Sorrentino and a Marsden plus their wolves which was enough to send anyone scuttling. Not Joseph.
Elena stood as did the pack members who could but Layn stayed where he was. She glanced at Clay across the hallway and then looked out at the mutts with her full Alpha present. “My guests, I hope you have been comfortable. Sorry the heater is broken; I imagine you’re quite cold. We will try and get that fixed soon,” Joseph said in a mocking voice.
“Joseph, we will talk now and negotiate,” Elena demanded but he held up a hand and directed his gaze at Layn.
“After I speak to that one,” he announced. Layn looked at him and smirked.
“The prodigal son has returned, aren’t you happy dad?” Layn asked sarcastically. Joseph only sighed and shook his head like when Layn had started getting bad grades and brought home his tests to get Jay’s attention as a kid. The only thing he got in return was the schools attention and a lot of bruises from Jay. He learned to never seek attention again though preferring to be the wallflower.
“It’s a shame I couldn’t you teach you any manners or respect but now I may give it another try,” he said gesturing to the other mutts.
“Oh, does that mean we get to go to another ball game? Movies? Maybe you can help me with my homework,” Layn sneered and stood unsteadily gripping the wall behind him. It did not pass Joseph’s notice.
“Hold him,” Joseph ordered. Cain grinned. Joseph put up his hand to the cage door and a machine Layn hadn’t noticed beeped. The door clicked and he had to manually enter a code to open the door. “Don’t worry,” Jay said turning to Clay who was against the bars snarling at him, “the code is different for every cage.” Clay let out a fierce animal growl but it was all he or any of them could do. Stand at the cage bars, glare and make noises.
Layn was pushed up against the cement wall and tied tightly to iron rings in the cement a short time after the mutts entered. He decided to try and take a different tack to deal with Jay and maybe lessen his beating. He knew it was coming. After all you don’t even mutter a disrespectful word around Jay before you were beaten. Of course he would be punished for disobeying.
“Please Jay; I was just trying to get them to you. It worked. The plan wasn’t working. I didn’t mean to disrespect you or go off plan. I got them here though didn’t I?” Layn asked making his voice as small as possible. Jay was in front of him seconds and had a hand on his cheek caressing. Layn breathed a sigh of relief for one second before the man pulled back and slapped him across the face hard. Layn yelled not expecting this. The lost boy look he adopted so well was gone when he met Jay’s eyes again and now they were just filled with fury.
“Please Layn, I taught you to lie, to manipulate. And you didn’t think I’d see right through that little ruse? Idiot boy,” Jay growled and wiped his hand on his pressed dress pants. He looked like he had just stepped from a limo to attend a movie premier. Compared to everything else here he was spotless and he didn’t belong.
“You can do whatever you want to me Jay. You’ve already fucked up the rest of my life and their lives so what more can you do?” Layn shouted hating that his fear showed through his voice but he couldn’t help it.
“Fucked up your life boy? Fucked up your life? I saved you,” Jay growled and punched his face making his head rip back and smack against the wall. He gripped Layn’s jaw hard and pulled his face forward. Layn could hear the pack in the background as their voices rose and fell but he had no idea what was being said. They could protest all they wanted but no one could help him. Joseph would kill him today and he was not prepared.
“Didn’t,” Layn growled and spit blood. It hit Jay’s cheek and he grimaced and then smiled maliciously before wiping it away. His jaw was on fire with pain but he didn’t dare show it. Pain was a weakness he couldn’t afford.
“I’ve often wondered how a little werewolf survived so long when I gave the order for him to be murdered with his mongrel parents,” Jay said and looked back at the other cages. Layn glanced at them but they were bleary shapes to him through his watery eyes.
Finally he understood what was being said. “You murdered them,” Layn asked wide eyed blinking away the water. For a moment the world was frozen and he felt nothing but a deep pain in his heart but he was pulled back to the real world soon after feeling rage.
“Of course I murdered them and I thought I murdered you too but Cain convinced me we could use you. You are alive because of him,” Jay said glancing at Cain who grunted. So when Cain brought him to the house all those years ago and Layn saw the intent in Jay’s eyes to murder him he was right. When Jay walked over to him and set a hand on his collar bone casually moving towards his throat he was planning on strangling him.
“He’s been useful hasn’t he?”
“Once upon a time,” Jay agreed and then called for someone to come. Layn looked towards the doorway and saw some blurry shapes coming in. He closed his eyes blinking away the wetness and was able to focus. A big werewolf had Noah hard by the arm Noah looked pissed and then relieved when he saw the pack was here.
“Nick!” he called and tried to surge forward but the mutt holding him grabbed him roughly and threw him back.
“Leave him alone!” Nick shouted angrily and banged on the bars. Elena ordered Nick to back down and Antonio sent reassuring words which Nick repeated. Noah didn’t look assured and Layn couldn’t blame him.
“Shut it!” Jay growled and waved for them to come forward, “Noah, I brought you here so you could watch, and if you want, help me, give the person who betrayed you some punishment. I’d be a proud dad to see you punch him right. Even if I have to reteach you since the pack messed you up.”
Layn looked up to meet Noah’s fearful eyes and mouthed that he was sorry. Noah shook his head. None of what had mattered anymore. “Jos…dad I don’t want to do this. Layn didn’t do anything wrong,” Noah tried to reason but Jay sighed and reached back smacking him in the side of the head. Noah took a step back a millisecond before he was hit and blocked Joseph about to punch out but Elena and Nick both told him not to. Noah stopped himself and glared at Jay who only chuckled.
“At least you learned how to fight a bit boy,” Jay grinned but Noah only scowled and tried to back away to the cage door again but Joseph grabbed him hard. “You still need to learn to be brave though, the pack won’t ever teach you that,” he sneered. Noah glared but said nothing. Finally Jay let him go only to turn to Layn and start hitting him again.
He didn’t make a sound as Jay’s blows rained down on his head, chest and shoulders. He didn’t give them the satisfaction of knowing the man hurt him or affected him. It felt as if it went on forever until Noah screamed for him to stop and then Layn realized it was him begging for it to end. Maybe he wasn’t so strong after all. Noah was screaming in the background as well but he barely heard the words. He just wanted it to end.
Layn groaned and felt the blackness closing in again shortly after. The second he closed his eyes he felt someone wrenched his jaw hard. He opened them again and then blinked confused before he left the world with shouts ringing in his ears.
Noah watched as Layn’s body slumped forward in his bonds. He had been mad at Layn for so long but he wasn’t anymore. Now he was just pissed and terrified. Now he understood. Of course Layn couldn’t go against his father or they would kill him. On the other side of the spectrum where the pack gave him so much freedom it was hard to understand these things but here it was much simpler. There were no choices. Kill or obey or be killed.
They left Layn where he was and Noah let Joseph guide him from the room. He glanced at the cages worriedly but Nick flashed him a quick one handed signal and Noah nodded before focusing on the world ahead of him. Nick just told him they had a plan and he had to hang tough. Maybe the best way to handle this was to join them. Pretend he wanted to be back with Joseph but he didn’t know if he was that good an actor.
“Does it bother you?” Joseph asked when he saw where Noah’s gaze trailed.
“No,” Noah said immediately looking directly into the Alpha’s eyes, “It’s where they belong. Maybe it was nice being with them sometimes but Layn opened my eyes. He was right and I’m glad we came here. How else was I supposed to get here?” Noah asked and looked at his father smiling. He set a hand on his father’s arm and tried to hide his disgust. Joseph stared at him and shook his head.
“You’ll need to try better than that boy. I’m not stupid,” Joseph growled and swung back his arm smacking him in the side of the head. Noah fell back but caught himself before he fell to the floor. Nick growled and smashed the cage with a hand. Rese glared silently but said nothing. Antonio growled at Nick to stop just as Elena was ordering Clay to back down when it seemed like he was about to break the bars and rush out to kill them all. If he could accomplish this then they would let him but he would only end up breaking a hand if he tried.
“Fine, but you’ll regret this Joseph. You will,” Noah growled rubbing the side of his face. Joseph smirked and grabbed the back of his shirt pulling him up and shoving him forward. Resigned Noah walked out the door not fighting them. It would only serve to hurt him more and he could not afford an injury if he wanted to get the pack out.
Joseph had a tight grip on his arm and he forced him from the room and up the stairs. Noah stumbled but his father didn’t care. The pack would have stopped to make sure he was ok. Joseph only cared about himself. Immediately he started developing a plan to get the pack out. He had no idea how to do this but as Joseph shoved him into his room again and locked the door Noah vowed he would kill his father or die trying.
Nick had never been so angry in his life or felt his chest tighten in this way. He wanted to rip out Joseph’s heart with his hand and make him eat it before he died. He would before this was over. Nick looked over at Layn and watched keeping an eye on his chest shallowly moving up and down. He was still alive but for how much longer? He needed help but the people who beat him were unlikely to provide that help. They had to escape and quickly before he stopped breathing all together.
“Elena,” Nick said. She glanced up and then over at the boy looking stressed but trying not to show it.
“I know Nick, but right now I have bigger problems. He’ll most likely die and I would like to focus on those I can save,” she informed. Nick felt a burst of agitation but he saw the reasoning. She was right. The pack came first.
He looked around at them all worrying most about his father. The older werewolf was pale and looked as stressed out as Elena did. He needed to step it up and do his part. Maybe he wasn’t a major player before but now he needed to be. He trusted his Alpha and his best friends but they were all exhausted and nothing like this had ever happened before. It was time for him to prove he was more than just the pack screw up. No one else thought that way he had been told but he felt it a lot.
He started to stand but a noise stopped him, clanking. He glanced up in Layn’s direction and saw Layn’s skin squirming with darkness underneath. “Elena,” he said gesturing to Layn who was now rapidly changing. His wrist and hands became elongated and the weight of his body pulled him down making the chains clang as his body slid to the floor. He was free and a half wolf now growing hair and a tail. Minutes later, faster than when he was awake, he was a wolf unconscious on the floor still.
“If we can wake him up he may be able to help,” Antonio said lowly. Nick nodded and so did Elena. Layn had probably turned into a wolf to promote healing which he would do faster in wolf form.
“Who knew turning into a wolf spontaneously would actually be an asset,” Reese murmured. Nick turned to look at him. The Aussie wolf had a bit of colour back at least and that made him feel better. Nick turned back to Elena. She was leaning against the bars.
He was walking in a fog that was so thick he couldn’t see his feet. It swirled around his ankles and up his thighs. He skimmed his hand along the miasma and glanced around the area studying his surroundings, fog and empty whiteness for as far as he could see. Where was he? How long had he been here?
He picked a direction, straight, and kept walking. Maybe he would run into someone or even something, civilization would be nice. He was surprised that he wasn’t tired or even hungry. He felt as if he had been walking for hours and fatigue didn’t touch him.
“Layn.” He looked around hearing the familiar voice but not recognizing it. He turned around in a circle with a curious expression.
“Hello?” he called getting no response. He shrugged and kept walking and then stopped. He had heard something hadn’t he? His brain felt like the fog was seeping in and obscuring his thoughts.
“Layn,” the voice called again and again Layn spun calling hello. Nothing. He stared walking again after a few frozen seconds but a voice boomed making him fall back and look at the sky. Behind him he heard a growl and he spun again seeing a big blonde wolf. He stared at it for a few seconds before he crouched and ran a hand through its fur unafraid.
Suddenly the wolf grew taller and Layn stood and stumbled back surprised when it grew into a woman. Did he know her? “Layn,” she said and walked forward hugging him. He stiffened but then smelled her and relaxed. Who was this woman?
When she pulled away from him she put a hand on each of his shoulders and looked into his eyes smiling but a frown quickly creased her brows. “Layn, what’s wrong? I’m Elena, your Alpha…,” the word Alpha hit him like a ton of bricks and suddenly he remembered and he was afraid.
He watched the memories rush by in a millisecond and blinked shaking his head hard. “Elena, where are we?” he asked looking around at the surroundings. He sniffed for the first time noticing nothing smelt of anything here. It was the oddest place he had ever been.
“We’re in your head Layn. Your unconscious and the only way I could reach you was through the pack bonds,” she explained. Layn stared at her wide eyed and then looked around. He supposed that made sense but it really just didn’t. He could feel a tight knot of anxiety in his chest well up at the thought. He was inside himself essentially. How did he get out?
“Layn, take a deep breath.” Elena advised. He nodded and did as told. They needed a plan and he started to form one but then he looked at his Alpha. She would do that for him. The reality of having her there for him in this capacity had never hit him so hard. She was the Alpha and when he accepted this he accepted that she made the plans, she took the blame and she made all the decisions. It felt as if a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders.
“What do we do?” he asked fully giving into her. She smiled and gave him a small nod.
“We need to wake you up but Layn, you need to be prepared. Jay and his thugs beat you pretty badly and you’re going to be in a lot of pain. You’ll need to get past that to help us.” Layn sucked in a breath and nodded. He could do this for them.
“Ok, on one condition…please.” Elena watched him for a moment and took a step back. “I need you to let me go. When this is over you need to let me go.” She watched him for a moment before sighing and nodding.
“Fine, Layn whatever you want.”
Layn nodded. She told him to close his eyes and think about being awake and away. He sat and tried this and for a while nothing happened. When he finally felt like something was happening the pain hit him and he pulled back with his eyes flying open. Elena watched him and set a hand on his shoulder rubbing gently through the bars. “I know sweetie but please try,” she asked.
Layn nodded and took a deep breath closing his eyes again. The pain took him immediately and only got worse as he concentrated but the pack was depending on him. He made himself move towards it. Cold air hit him, voices and so much pain. He whined and opened his eyes seeing only blurs at first. He closed his eyes and tried again seeing more muted colours and shapes. He rolled to his feet whining with more pain and slowly got to his feet panting. He limped slowly to the cage and thumped down near the bars with a huff. He had so little energy. He was in so much pain all over. How was he supposed to help them when all he wanted to do was sleep?
“Good job Layn.” Elena set a hand on his head. He whimpered and closed his eyes again. He could just sleep couldn’t he?
“No, Layn stay awake.” Elena shook him and he growled but she growled back making him snap his eyes open. He listened for a minute before getting up on shaky legs. He took a few steps and fell letting the blackness overtake him again. He couldn’t do it. It was too much.
Nick swore and reached through the bars but he couldn’t reach the wolf. Layn was breathing shallowly and he was their only real hope right then. The door to his cage had been left unlocked either by accident or because Jay figured he would die. He may still be right of course. Layn was very close to dead right now and there was nothing he felt he could do besides scream and shout.
“Is there any way we can get into his cage?” Reese asked without much hope.
“No, but I saw the codes he was putting into Layn’s cage and I don’t believe they would be different from the rest. There has to be at least one other cage it opens,” Clay rationalized. The question was how to get the scanner to work before the code needed to be input and who exactly had access to do this.
Antonio reached over and shook Layn’s flank trying to wake him back up and Elena did the same thing. Reese found some lose mortar in the cell and threw it at the wolf’s head. Layn moved a bit but then went still. If they could wake the wolf up they might be ok.
Antonio picked up on of the bigger chunks and hefted it in his hand like a knife. He looked at Elena who closed her eyes for a moment but then nodded. Antonio looked pained before he brought the knife down into Layn’s flank jolting the small wolf awake with a yip.
Lay looked around with clouded eyes as Elena tried to get his attention. Finally Layn snorted and looked at her whimpering. When he was close enough she took his muzzle and pulled him forward. Layn whimpered and growled but was too weak to really protest. “Listen Layn, just listen,” Elena said. Layn went quiet watching her with unfocused eyes. “I need you to leave and go attract attention. All you have to do is bring someone back and make sure he is near the bars of one of these cages. We will do the rest.”
Layn pulled from her grip and laid his head on his paws trying to sleep again but Elena smacked his head. Layn shot up and growled trying to bite her hand but she grabbed his muzzle again hard. “Layn, go now,” she ordered harshly. Layn whined when she let him go and struggled to his feet.
Layn dizzily walked to the cage bars and stumbled once falling to the floor but he regained his footing and got to the bars looking at them. Finally he flopped down again and started howling a bark. The pack started hissing at him to cut it out but it brought someone running quickly. The door opened and one of the mutt’s came thundering in intent on shutting Layn up for good.
As soon as he was close enough to the cage bars Karl reached out and grabbed him in a split second move covering his mouth and putting his arm around the mutt’s throat squeezing tightly. The mutt thrashed and almost ripped Karl’s arm off in an attempt to get away but finally he stopped kicking. Karl lowered him to the floor and then looked at Elena.
“We need his hand.” Karl nodded and concentrated for the next minute until his hand started to change. When it was a paw with sharp claws he ripped into the mutt’s skin and sawed off the mutt’s hand. The stump spurted blood that arched around the area and splattered the ceiling and the pack members in the cage before it came to rest on the floor gushing out more blood like a river.
Karl let his hand grow back to human and stood pushing it against the scanner that beeped. Clay called out the code but the machine only buzzed an alarm that they had gotten it wrong.
“Give it here,” Reese said and tried it on his cage as well to no avail.
“Try and hurry so it keeps warm,” Antonio instructed as the hand made the rounds. It didn’t work on any of the cages on the south side and Nick tossed it to his father when it didn’t work on his cage. Antonio tried and the anticipation was palpable. The door clicked open and the man grinned and stepped out immediately opening the door to Layn’s cage and checking on him. He was unconscious again.
“Antonio, I was so hoping we might meet again,” a voice called. Nick looked up to see Cain, the brick shit house, in the entrance to the passage way. His father grinned and pushed up his sleeves moving forward.
“Dad, no,” Nick growled. His father sent him a reassuring look filled with all the love he had ever felt before he turned to Cain again. “Please,” Nick was not above begging. He sagged against the bars watching his dad go to a certain death. His father was still an excellent fighter but Cain played unfair. He would have weapons and he would use them.